The Los Angeles Lakers end their road trip with a clash against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, hoping to head back home for Thanksgiving with more than one win in the five-game stretch.
LeBron James returns to the starting lineup after serving his one-game suspension. Unfortunately though, the Lakers are without Anthony Davis due to the illness he’s been dealing with.
Frank Vogel revealed that his fever returned after the game against the New York Knicks and as a result he is stuck at the team’s hotel until the fever breaks due to league protocols, which did not happen in time to make it for the game against the Pacers.
The Lakers’ rotation faces further changes after Los Angeles found find itself rallying back from a double-digit deficit in the second game in a row.
In Davis’ absence, Vogel expects DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard to have major roles against the Pacers — who often play with two centers on the floor. While it’s possible James sees some minutes as a small-ball center, Vogel doesn’t expect it to happen in this specific matchup because of how big the Pacers play.
Domantas Sabonis features among the top-10 rebounders in the league, collecting 11.1 boards per night. However, that partly stems from the fact Indiana allows plenty of 2-point attempts. But, the Pacers also rank in the top-10 in points in the paint and total rebounds allowed, and register the most blocks per game (6.8) in the league.
Myles Turner swats away 3.1 shots a night himself, the most in the NBA.
Hence, the Lakers should keep their eyes open when penetrating the paint to avoid a dispiriting rejection at the hands of Turner. Furthermore, shot selection will be crucial as Sabonis will stand ready to crash the glass each time they miss.
Especially as finding open looks on the perimeter might not come easy. The Pacers allow the fewest 3-point attempts in the league (30.1 per game). That puts pressure on James and Russell Westbrook to take care of the ball and move it around swiftly.
And on the Lakers shooters, to show off an improved off-the-ball movement and help their playmakers create the best looks possible beyond the arc.
One way L.A. can increase their chances against Indiana is to crank up the pressure on defense and then use its roster’s athleticism and pace in transition. The Pacers commit 13.5 turnovers per game, leading to 17.6 points for their opponents.
Therefore, the outcome of the clash could come down to effort and determination. Westbrook showed his teammates in the last two games how dangerous the Lakers get when they play hard to win.
As Avery Bradley has recently said, L.A. will do itself a favor if they can finally start doing so from the tip-off until the final buzzer. Otherwise, there might be doom, gloom, and silence on the flight back to Los Angeles.
Lakers (9-10) vs. Pacers (8-11)
4:00 p.m. PT, Nov. 24, 2021
Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Talen Horton-Tucker
PF: LeBron James
C: DeAndre Jordan
Key Reserves: Carmelo Anthony, Malik Monk, Wayne Ellington, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo
Projected Pacers Starting Lineup:
PG: Malcolm Brogdon
SG: Caris LeVert
SF: Justin Holiday
PF: Domantas Sabonis
C: Myles Turner
Key Reserves: Torrey Craig, R.J. McConnell, Chris Duarte, Kelan Martin
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